A quick catching up

It’s a chilly morning and I’m snuggled in a blanket on the couch with my second cup of coffee.  It’s quiet-just the shhhhh of the furnace.  I have a cookie scented candle burning from Bath and Body and it smells delicious.

It has been a busy several months since I’ve last written.

I have officially moved into my grandma’s house-directly next door to the house I lived in for the past 20 years.  I boxed up her lifetime of accumulated belongings and moved the majority of it into my old house.  I still have a lot of things left to move out but it’s a process.

I was able to design the remodel completely on my own:  paint, fixtures, tile, counters-everything, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  We’re actually still in the process of remodeling but the main areas are done.  It’s a small house but so much bigger than where we were.  I honestly felt like the Old Lady in the Shoe, especially having seven of us living in less than 1000 square feet with ONE bathroom between us.  We managed;  we survived.

I think what I love the most is that I’m living in a house in which I’ve only ever had good things happen.  My grandma was such a treasure to me-all through my growing up years as well as my adulthood.  As a kid, we all had family dinners on Friday nights at her house where we’d laugh, eat, and us kids would watch The Dukes of Hazard or Benny Hill reruns.

It’s surreal living here.  I know it’s the same house but it looks so different.  I have my couches and tv facing a different direction but in my head I can still see my grandparent’s rocking chairs and all of their furniture. It’s like my memories are clashing with the new ones I’m making.  My kids will be so confused when I’m old and trying to tell them stories;  I’ll have the timelines all garbled.  Oh well, they can sort it out.

I’m in the process of trying to start either a vlog or a podcast…I get myself so worked up with anxiety about it that I haven’t actually put anything together.  Stupid, isn’t it?  My biggest downfall is fear of failure.  Lord only knows what I could have accomplished if I didn’t hold myself back.

I’m still alive, if you hadn’t guessed.  And back on a diet.  *groan*

Since I feel like my writing is stuttering, let me share a few pictures with you:

Gorgeous view overlooking Lake Elsinore

Robert got a brand new bike!

Matthew is continuing his guitar practice and always improving.

Sweetpea loves this house so much more

So does Baxter

I absolutely love my new kitchen

Jordan was able to spend Christmas with us

I hope you enjoyed my little photo tour of the last few months!

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Adventures in Motorcycling, Part Five

Bright eyed and not so bushy-tailed, we knew today we would arrive back at home-to kids, dogs, cats, and the realization that Robert would soon be back on the road, alone, in his truck.  Neither one of us wanted our vacation to end so soon but, alas, bills must be paid.

The wind was horrible and I needed to keep my head tucked down and against Robert’s back to minimize the feeling that I’d be blown right off the bike into oncoming traffic. There were gusts expected upwards of 30 mph and for a new rider like myself, that news was far from good.  I did the best that I could to hold on as tight as possible and when we finally hit a rest area, my muscles were feeling strained from holding the same position for so long. I was glad for the break to rest a little.  Robert’s dad gave him an extra handkerchief when we were there visiting, and boy, was that a lifesaver! While not what I’d consider glamorous, it was of great use to prevent the heavy winds from invading my nostrils with so much force.  The air was cool which made it all the more uncomfortable.

We were on the main highway for an hour, at least, and the wind was picking up even more which is worrisome when you are travelling on a road packed with big rigs.  I just wasn’t up for becoming a pancake because a semi blew over on top of me-Robert was feeling the same so we got off the highway and on Route 66 through Amboy.

In case you aren’t familiar with Amboy, California, it is in the Mojave Desert, west of Needles and east of Ludlow.  While it was a boom-town in 1926, it was more of a ghost town when we went through. We passed only one police officer and I wondered to myself what bet he lost to be stuck on that lonely stretch of highway. The road was enjoyable with many curves and we pretty much had it to ourselves.

We did not gas up under the assumption that there would be plenty of opportunity after getting some miles under our belts. Well, as the gas light came on and we passed  mile after mile of burned out houses-I swear it was a scene out of Breaking Bad. I was starting to panic. Robert asked me to check my maps to see if there was anything around but my dumb “smartphone” thought I was still at home and was absolutely worthless.  Images went through my head about us having to walk mile after mile in what I only imagined to be Meth Alley while Robert pushed the bike-this very heavy bike, to a gas station. Oh, the humanity!  We pulled over and his phone was much smarter than mine so he was able to see that there was one just around the corner. Whew!  Talk about too close for comfort.

The wind was still very strong as we pulled up to the Joshua Tree Saloon. Of course, the parking lot is all gravel and being on a bike in gravel makes me extremely nervous-not that don’t have confidence in Robert’s abilities, I just don’t like the feeling of sliding while we maneuver through it so I asked him to stop for a minute so I could hop off while he parked.

I was so ready for a drink. Or three.

The wind was really howling and I was afraid that the bike would fall over while we were inside but it’s not like I was going to sit outside and try to catch it if it did so I decided I’d just go in and enjoy myself.

We decided that it would be best to stay the night and start the trip home after we rested and the wind died down some (supposedly, it would be better the next day).  Oh darn, we have to stay another night on the road in my favorite place with my favorite person.  Double darn.

Robert called the Joshua Tree Inn just in time because they only had one room available.  We were able to get the John Barrymore Suite which we had never stayed in before (this was John Wayne’s favorite room) and I was beyond excited.  It’s a very romantic setting;  the rooms are done up all cozy, and they each have their own private patios.

We finished our food and I had a couple of Cowgirl Gun Slingers (in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m the drinker in this outfit) so I was sufficiently loosened up for a relaxing evening.

Unfortunately, the Joshua Tree Inn has no covered parking or anywhere to park a motorcycle that could topple over into the car next to it…I did wish that we could sneak it into the courtyard when the owners left but I’m pretty sure someone would give them a call once they heard the loud rumbling of the engine right up at their bedroom doors.  We would just have to hope for the best.

After we were all checked in and given the keys, Robert let me into our room while he gathered our belonging and brought them in.  I promptly found my comfy spot.

 Yes, that’s my side of the bed.

It was an absolutely adorable room.

I told Robert that he could sleep on the daybed. I’m a giver.  It was a cute little kitchen stocked with utensils and a fresh supply of coffee.
  This was a lovely sitting room at the entry.  Coffee!  Oh, was I happy to see that we didn’t have to go anywhere to get a fresh cup in the morning.  I’m cranky if I don’t have coffee and quiet first thing.  You never would have guessed that, would you?  Now be nice.

I made myself a cup and listened to the wind from inside the bathroom where I could get a nice view.  Yes, that does sound a little strange-but it was the only unobstructed window.

I really do love the sound of wind blowing through the trees and bouncing doors to and fro as long as I don’t have to be out in it.

I slept so well that night other than an occasional start from sleep due to the sound of something knocking around outside.  I finally told myself, as I was worrying about falling motorcycles, Screw it, if it falls, it falls, and hopefully the ghost of Gram Parson will help Robert pick it back up off its side.

Yes, the concrete slab used to memorialize the place where Gram Parsons had been cremated has been moved to the Joshua Tree Inn and supposedly his spirit, at times, parties it up a little with the guests.

The sky was a bright and beautiful blue with windswept clouds spread about just so.  Gram Parsons Memorial to the left-in front of the stone guitar.
  Outside our suite.  The unheated pool just yonder.        I’d love to take a swim one day but it hasn’t been quite hot enough during the times we’ve been there.  I have, however, been entertained watching a man swim with his family while wearing his Speedo.  There’s something so comical about men in Speedos…maybe it reminds me of watching the boys high school water polo team.      I loved this piece.  It’s a bicycle wheel with painted lampshades attached to a pole so that it rotates in the wind.  

 Robert carried our stuff back to our (still standing) motorcycle, got it all packed in, and then we said goodbye to our favorite little hideaway.

I had such a fantastic trip and I owe it all to Robert.  He spent months planning this trip trying to make it absolutely perfect and he exceeded my expectations.  He went above and beyond to not only ensure that we had a great time and got to enjoy the true beauty only found in nature, but that I always felt safe while we rode so that we might have many more adventures together in the future.  He’s quite the man and I’m a lucky girl.

Adventures in Motorcycling, Part Four

After bidding Sedona a fond farewell, we hit the road traveling towards Flagstaff, Arizona.  Now, I know this was my mom and dad’s favorite place to stay whenever they would head out of town but to me, it just doesn’t hold the same appeal.  I suppose they best part to her was just spending time alone with my dad and now that he’s gone, those memories make Flagstaff seem even more magical. But for me, I was ready to just blow on by. Well, after my coffee and snacks, of course.  It was chilly on the road so when we stopped to fuel, I was drooling for something hot to warm me up and something nutritious and filling like, TaDa! Pork Rinds!

  And to ensure that I would be able to drink my coffee while riding and not have it spew up in my face, voila!  Straws work wonderfully!

We drove a bit further and between the cold and the wind, Robert felt it was a good time to stop at the Harley store nearby and pick up a full faced helmet. The winds were pretty gusty so he also got me a hoodie to wear under my leather because I was freezing my patootie off. It’s no fun on a bike if you can’t hear the open road over your chattering teeth…

Robert decided it would be a fun idea to take historic Route 66 for a stretch so we hopped on and rode it until we came upon this-Route 66 all in gravel.

  So, we both said Screw that, and turned ourselves back from whence we came.
    This was a teeny tiny entry way that only one vehicle could fit through at a time.

After driving for a ways (I can’t say how long because i was so wind whipped) we managed to find ourselves back on Route 66 but on much better road.  It was quite enjoyable, actually.


                Then we landed in Kingman.  Ohh, Kingman, my aren’t you a hot, windy part of Arizona.  I’ll admit, at that point, I was ready to just be in Laughlin already.  I was tired of the heat, wind…just plain tired.  I was looking forward to trying my luck at the casino and I knew Robert had gotten us a nice room for the night so I was excited.  But Laughlin was sooo far away, it seemed.

 Want a shot of Courtney on the rocks?  

We stopped for  bathroom break and I was about to start clicking my heels to see if  it would whisk me away out of that heat.

I have to say, Robert has never given me crap for always needing pit stops.  It doesn’t matter if it’s because I need to use the restroom, stretch my legs, get something to drink-whatever.  He will always stop when I need to and boy, am I thankful!

We finally made it to the Aquarius in Laughlin, Nevada and I don’t remember much about that little stretch except we were passed by this couple on their motorcycle-she was in here little booty shorts, hair long and flying in the wind with no helmet, big sunglasses and a hoodie.  I was young once, not too terribly long ago but all I could think was Damn, that girl is going to have one giant dreadlock that will be impossible to brush through and where’s the helmet?  Little shorts?  That cute little booty and those long legs will get eaten up if he lays that bike down…Put on some clothes, for the love of Pete!! Thankfully, they made it to hotel with no issues and her booty remained unscathed.

aquarius

We waited in the Check-In line behind a group of European tourists and I couldn’t help but think that they were bound to be disappointed staying in this place.  It’s not bad, as far as the casino atmosphere goes but it was very smokey.  Maybe they loved it, I don’t know, I guess I just have preferences and I get persnickety when I’m hot and tired.

Our room was gorgeous-two separate areas, king sized bed, a great view of the river, and a full kitchen.  As soon as we got in and cleaned up we were ready to eat so we headed to the buffet.  Now, when I started this trip, I was on a diet, more specifically a low carb diet.  I let myself enjoy a date shake at the beginning of the trip with the intention of jumping right back in with my diet. I did pretty well for the most part until the BUFFET!

Pastries, cakes, and cookies, oh my!

All bets were off.

4 mimosas and a couple of plates like this were pure Heaven!

 After eating, we looked around the casino to see what there was to play. NO Blackjack?! What in the HELL?  There were acres of poker tables and endless rows of slot machines but there were only a few black jack tables that practically had tumble weeds tucked under the chairs.  I was so disappointed.

I played a few slot machines but promptly lost my money and deemed this casino my least favorite.  I pouted for awhile and decided I was ready for bed.  Honestly, I was over-tired and really just needed to sleep. I think Laughlin would probably be fun for me as a Girl’s Weekend type of getaway where all we did was drink and talk but as a gambling destination, it’s on the bottom of my list.

river2

river

It was so windy outside, I could barely open my eyes.

After a good night’s sleep (and several mimosas for me in the morning), we were packed up and headed off  to Joshua Tree, California-one of my favorite places to visit.

Adventures in Motorcycling, Part Three

I neglected to mention the fact that our room number was also my birth date.  We enjoy funny coincidences, especially in Sedona where the word ‘vortex’ is used in everyday conversation and they are thought to be locations that have a certain spiritual energy flow that exists on, what some believe, are multiple dimensions…

The entry to our abode.

Where all the magic happens

 

After a bite of breakfast at the hotel, we were ready to head on out and do some meandering about town.  Of course, we knew it would rain yet again but rain is some of my favorite weather and we certainly don’t get any at home so I knew I would enjoy it, regardless.

 The breathtaking views even made the public parking lots beautiful!

There are so many shops to visit and each one is unique-gemstones, jewelry, art, knickknacks, paddy-whacks…you name it.  We even found a Harley store and Robert found himself a new ring:

  We found a lovely pair of opal earrings for my mom-2nd row from the top on the right.  I think I was more impressed with them than she was.  I have to remind her periodically that they aren’t abalone…
 I find silly things are often the most pleasing.

We roamed around a bit more before my stomach started grumbling for a margarita, er, lunch, so we had a nice little break and chatted about how unusual we found Sedona.  Not what I expected, in the least.  Honestly, I thought for sure I’d find hippies dancing barefoot in the street telling of how magical “The Vortex” was while trying to lure us into their shop to get our palms read.  Instead, we encountered friendly people just enjoying their day like we were.

There were plenty of opportunities for photos with lovely scenes in the background.

Amethyst is my birthstone and as we were looking at some jewelry, Robert found a beautiful ring and bracelet for me.  I was absolutely spoiled and loving every minute of it!

 As we were about to cross the street to another set of stores that we hadn’t been to yet, lightning lit up the sky and a thunderous applause was delivered promptly afterwards.  We found an unoccupied bench and just drank it all in.  The sounds and smells of a fresh thunderstorm are indescribable.

It was amusing to me to watch the jeep tours drive by with the passengers wearing what amounted to giant trash bags-that’s some dedicated tourism! I think I would have been content to spend the rest of the day there on the bench with a hot cup of coffee in one hand and my other holding Robert’s. 

The rain died down a little so that we were able to cross the street that was quickly becoming a deluge.  I was almost hit by a distracted woman in her car who bit her nails knowing what she had almost done.  Rain and drivers don’t mix well.


The hunt was on:  Find an umbrella!

We walked down the street, unsuccessfully dodging raindrops, until we stopped at Murph’s Country Store.  We looked around a bit until Bingo!  Green umbrellas at an Irish grocery!  I’m not sure what was said, exactly, but Robert got us into the best conversation with Ann that I’ve had in a long while.  We discussed rebellious teenagers, our relationships with our dads (who are both deceased) and she had me in stitches with Feckin’ this, and Feckin’ that-if you stop and take the time to have conversations with strangers, you’ll often find it truly rewarding. She was a wonderful story-teller and I could honestly get a little glimpse of what her life was like in Ireland.  What a treasure!

After saying our goodbyes with promises to return on our next trip, we made our way back, green umbrellas in hand.  Yes, we each got one because Robert didn’t want to share.  He knew it would become mine and he’d be the one left in the rain.  Smart guy.

My Robert.  He’s such a ham.

It was about time to start heading back to the hotel so I snapped a few more pictures and then we were off.

    

And away we go!

We arrived back at the hotel just in time to watch the sunset.  After a day full of rain, thunder, and lightning, the display was spectacular.  I took some photos while Robert chit chatted with other observers standing by.  It’s fun being social.


    

We ended our day on a happy note, ready to travel to Laughlin in the morning.

Adventures in Motorcycling, Part Two

We left the hotel for the next part of our trip and headed over to get a bite to eat.  Drinking is one of my most favorite pastimes so I was well acquainted with the need for bacon to fill my aching tummy after our night on Whiskey Row.  We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and discussed how long our drive would be as well as the rain clouds that were looming overhead.  Yes,  we would be in for a wet ride today.


 The clouds were gorgeous, but sure enough, we got rained on for most of the way to our first stop in Jerome, Arizona.

Jerome is an unusual little town that has houses built into the side of the mountain.  It would have been quite an experience to do more exploring but I urged Robert to get us back on the road and head to Sedona (only 10 minutes after we paid to visit the Jerome museum) because I really wasn’t outfitted for rain.  We were, however,  able to take a few pictures in front of the sprawling landscape of the Black Hills.


 Back on the bike and on our way to Sedona!  I was loving the clouds even though they were becoming increasingly dark and threatening.  My ears were starting to freeze which reminded me how ill prepared I was for anything other than Southern California weather.  Pshaw, weather…we’re in a drought-what’s rain again?  Something of legends.


 Isn’t it gorgeous? If only I could bottle the aroma of fresh rain on asphalt with a hint of gasoline notes to highlight the rumble of a Harley on the open road.  That’s bliss, I tell you!

Freedom

Just as I was about to take off my gloves and shove them up inside my helmet to protect my freezing ears, we arrived in Sedona.  Oh happy day!

 We promptly located our hotel and found a place to park.  I wish I had gotten a picture of Robert when he first got off the bike because he was drenched.  My man was also my windshield because the ankles of my jeans were barely wet while he was soaked up to his knees-even his ass was soggy.  Of course I laughed, being the slightly wicked individual that I am.  Alas, I was too busy delighting in his misery to think of taking a picture.

We got ourselves checked in and sweetheart that he is, Robert let them know that our trip was also a celebration of my 40th birthday. The receptionist reached behind her and produced a bottle of wine and two glasses and wished me a Happy Birthday.  That’s some top-notch service in my book.

Our room with a view was quite comfortable and provided us with the relaxation we desired.

  Notice he’s barely taking off his shoes and I already have half of the bottle gone.  That’s how I roll.

  We had little bursts of sunshine as the clouds ran off, but they quickly returned and brought more rain.      I was a bit tired and convinced Robert that we should stay in and enjoy the views from our room while eating some delivery pizza.  Of course, I drank the whole bottle myself (minus a few sips I allowed him to have) and sank myself into the bed while watching a couple of episodes of Dance Moms.  Did I mention that he’s a good sport?  If not, let me tell you now, he puts up with me and my shenanigans and still talks to me the next day.  That’s a good guy, right there.

  At some point, I passed out from exhaustion (and wine) and woke up well rested and ready to embrace a brand new day exploring Sedona.

Adventures in Motorcycling, Part One

I’ve developed a certain fondness for adventure over the last couple of years.

Fondness?  Maybe insatiable appetite would be more fitting.  I crave it.

My husband bought a motorcycle a year ago figuring that he would enjoy the opportunity to ride on those rare occasions he’s allowed home (he’s an OTR truck driver). It was basically built for one.  He didn’t realize, however, that once he took me for a ride, that one seater would be getting replaced with a couch built for two, and he would need to add a back rest.

A little less that a year later, we found ourselves with a bigger bike equipped with plenty of room for me to carry my essentials (my crap), a nice little stereo, and plenty of room on the back for me to feel safe and comfortable.  So comfortable, in fact, that I’ve nodded off a few times!

At the beginning of May we were able to take our first real trip on our new bike and it was a great introduction for me.  We ran into heat, rain, gusty winds, and a break down that he was able to figure out and fix, thankfully.  I absolutely loved it.

The first leg of our trip had us heading to Yuma, Arizona.  If any of you are familiar with Yuma, you can understand when I describe it as The Devil’s Butt Crack.  It’s not uncommon to reach 115 degrees in the summer, if not higher.  Heat and I do not mix well.  Thankfully, there’s a place in Thermal, California that sells date shakes which, if you haven’t had one yet, I urge you to do soon;  they’re glorious creations that will cool your tongue in the middle of the blazing heat.

See how happy I am?


I remember wishing that the shop had been cooler inside but I was grateful to have a little break from the blazing sun on my shoulders.

Onward we rode with me on the back snapping photos of our surroundings with the Cannon we picked up especially for our trip and with my iphone 6.  I’m very new to that camera so I have a lot of learning to do-I was disappointed in my ability to take action shots while riding.  Most came out blurry but I was able to manage a few usable ones.  Of course, I managed to take some selfies, too.


I find ways to entertain myself on long stretches through the desert…!

We made it to our first destination-visiting family and lounging about for a day and night and then it was time to say goodbye and hit the road again.  This is where we ran into a bit of trouble.  The bike had been running smoothly up to this point so we thought nothing of stopping at the one store in the middle of nowhere to grab something to drink.  Apparently that was some bad decision-making because the bike wouldn’t start back up again-completely dead.  Jumped on the phone to HOG (they help with towing, etc.) to see if they could get us to a nearby mechanic which turned out to be 70 + miles away and would cost us $800. Yikes! Thankfully, Family Dollar carries some basic tools and my husband was able to figure out the problem and get it fixed. Amazing!  I was so relieved because it’s no fun being stranded in places to which you are unaccustomed. Like I said, I do manage to find ways to keep myself occupied so I made my own little biker buddy while my husband was on the phone.


I try to go with the flow as much as possible, even if I don’t always succeed.

We made it down the road a few miles before the issues returned but Robert was able tighten a few more screws and there were no more problems for the remainder of the trip.

That evening we arrived in Prescott, Arizona. Neither of us had ever been there and I do wish we had gotten there earlier in the day as originally planned, but I was thrilled at how cute the town was as we made our way to the hotel.  Pulling up into the driveway , we came across a group of German tourists that had rented motorcycles  to make their way from Florida to Las Vegas and back.  They were loaded down with packs of beer and settling in for some relaxation.  They extended an invite but we declined as we already had plans to hit Whiskey Row.

After washing the dirt and grime off from our adventure earlier, we plotted out our path to Whiskey Row.  We had been told by different people that the walk was only about a short block so when we looked on our map and discovered it was actually a mile and a half…we decided it was worth it anyway and so off we went on our little excursion.


Our initial plan was to get a drink from each of the bars but when we discovered what an excellent bartender we would have in the first one,  we decided to stay and enjoy ourselves there for a few hours.  I’m too competitive for my own good so I stayed neck and neck with Robert on the drinks and needless to say, that night is a little fuzzy.  I believe we ended with him having 8 and me having 7.  The drinks were excellent as was the service.

Here’s a little sample of our adult beverages:

This was the BEST Bloody Mary I’ve ever had.  No comparison!
  This was my last drink and packed a wallop.  It was appropriately named Finger in the ass.    We managed our mile and a half back to the hotel just fine (and upright) and slept in a little later the next morning.  We had so much fun and hope to return later this year and see our favorite bartender.

(By the way, I was corrected on my pronunciation of Prescott-apparently, the last syllable rhymes with biscuit.  Like Pres-cuit.  I’ll just continue saying it how I normally do:  PresSCOTT.)